A turkey for life, not just Christmas!

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One Scarva Primary School pupil had something a bit different at the top of her Christmas list this year - a turkey.

Six-year-old Athena Bryson, from Poyntzpass, asked her parents, Graham and Melissa if she could have a pet turkey this Christmas and they were only too happy to oblige.

The turkey, which Athena has named Valerie Lucky, is certainly one of the luckiest turkeys around as it will survive becoming someone’s dinner this festive season.

Athena said she had been a vegetarian since she was five because she loved animals so much she didn’t want to eat them.

Dairy farmers Graham and Melissa went out their way to make sure their little girl’s wish came true.

Melissa said: I tried to source a turkey but everyone I was phoning up said their turkeys had all been slaughtered and they were probably pre-packed in Tesco.”

They found a farmer in Ballynahinch but he was slaughtering his turkeys the same day.

Fortunately he was able to source one for them from a farm in Newry.

“Kevin in Ballynahinch thought it was a lovely story for Christmas,” Melissa said. “She was going to be slaughtered the next day so we saved her life.

“She’s lovely. We’re all very happy with her. We think she’s beautiful and we’re going to keep her now as a family pet.”

The pet turkey shares its name with Melissa’s friend Valerie, while Lucky was chosen as the turkey has been saved from the chop.

Athena hopes to be a vet when she grows up and mum Melissa insists she is a lovely young girl who is already so good with animals.

Melissa explained that this is not the first time Athena has cared for an animal’s life.

Last year she bottle-fed lambs who didn’t have a mother while she has an incubator to help little chicks as well.

Melissa also hopes that Valerie Lucky will lay eggs in the spring to help feed vegetarian Athena.

She said: “She will go into the house with the hens. The kids both loves eges so they can have them for their breakfast or tea.”

The rest of the Bryson family eat meat, including ten-year-old Jenson and will be tucking into a steak dinner on Christmas Day while Anthena will have potatoes and vegetables, with broccoli and carrots listed among her favourites